Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

the-grand-astoria-the-fuzz-of-destiny

Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

ealdor-bealu-dark-water-at-the-foot-of-the-mountain

“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

Green Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

bretus-from-the-twilight-zone

Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Endless Winter Records

 

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Hosoi Bros Premiere “Lights Out” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hosoi-bros

I really dig the comment below about Hosoi Bros‘ new album, Abuse Your Allusion III from Severin Allgood. First of all, he’s right, the record is easily the most professional-sounding thing the Memphis-based heavy punkers have done — if you caught onto it last year, think of a less metal incarnation of Bloodcow‘s Crystals and Lasers as a comparison point — but it’s also interesting the way Allgood brings up how technology has changed the way we interact with music in our day-to-day. He names names: Bandcamp, Soundcloud, iPhone, Macbook, Spotify, your earbuds.

Hosoi Bros, who release Abuse Your Allusion III Sept. 23 on Typhoon Killer Records, already have it up and available to order from Bandcamp, so it’s not like they eschew this technology. I’m not sure a band could and reasonably expect anyone to hear their music. And Allgood isn’t necessarily the first to bring up the idea of making a full-album as opposed to a collection of single tracks, but I guess I haven’t often thought of streaming technology in terms of having a hand in leveling the playing field from a production standpoint, or how that might be used as a drive to surpass the status quo, as Hosoi Bros do with their latest.

Of course, it’s a more general statement about the album as a whole than “Lights Out” itself, for which you’ll find the chicanery-prone outfit getting up to some primo nonsense. At four and a half minutes, “Lights Out” is one of the longer tracks on the record, which has been a while in the making — they premiered a video for “Hands of Stone” here last year — but its catchy rush and crisp execution represent Abuse Your Allusion III well, even if it’s not as outwardly silly as “Drunk Donkey,” “Saint Tightus” or “Topless Gnome.”

Please find the video below, followed by the aforementioned statement from AllgoodAbuse Your Allusion III (note: it’s the first one) is out Sept. 23.

Enjoy:

Hosoi Bros., “Lights Out” official video

Severin Allgood on Abuse Your Allusion III:

We got super weird with this album. There’s gongs, bells, synths, and tree frogs. Alan Burchum did an amazing job with the production. It feels like an album. And by that I mean, it feels like when I was a kid and would bring home a new cassette and throw it on my stereo. Bandcamp and Soundcloud have decimated the playing field. Every idiot with an iPhone or a Macbook now has a demo available for download. We set out to make a polished, cohesive, and complete thought. We spent a lot of time adding layers and playing with track order. This album is designed to be played loud on your stereo. It was not made with the idea of individual tracks for Spotify radio. Take out your earbuds and crank up your speakers.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros on Twitter

Hosoi Bros on Bandcamp

Typhoon Killer Records webstore

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The Dirty Streets Tour Starts this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Okay, so I know I already posted these tour dates from the perspective of The Atomic Bitchwax, who are headlining this tour for which Memphis heavy blues rockers Dirty Streets will provide support. In my defense, I’ll say only that the tour kicks ass and if you can’t get down with someone trying to spread the word about shows you should go to, you’re probably on the wrong site. I don’t know how you got here, but feel free to move along. You know what? I got a press release today with the same dates from Lo-Pan, who are also joining for part of the trek. I’m gonna post them tomorrow. Take that, if you even can.

The Dirty Streets head out as they continue to proselytize their fourth album, White Horse (review here), as they’ve done pretty steadily since it came out on Alive Records last year. They’ll do the entire run with The Atomic Bitchwax and then some, and they’re even getting an early start tomorrow night in Murfreesboro, so the dates would seem to be easily worth a look on their own.

Dig it:

dirty streets

DIRTY STREETS US tour dates
8/18-Murfreesboro, TN @ Media Re-run
8/19-Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
8/20-Hattiesburg, MS @ The Tavern
8/21-New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
8/22-San Antonio, TX @ Limelight
8/23- Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
8/24- Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
8/25- Fort Worth, TX @ Rail Club
8/26-Albequerque NM @ TBA
8/27-Las Vegas NV @ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
8/28-San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
8/29-Hollywood, CA @ Viper Room
8/30-San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room
8/31-Portand, OR @ Dantes
9/1-Vancouver, BC @ BIltmore
9/2- Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
9/3-Bellingham, WA @ Shakedown
9/4-Missoula, MT @ VFW hall
9/6-Minneapolis, MN @ Grumpy’s
9/7-Chicago IL @ Double Door
9/8-Cleveland OH @ Grog Shop
9/9-Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
9/10-Brooklyn, NY @ Black Bear
9/12-Savannah, GA @ El-Rocko
9/17-Memphis, TN @ Cooper Young Fest
9/23-Memphis, TN @ DKDC

https://www.facebook.com/thedirtystreets
http://www.alive-records.com/artist/the-dirty-streets/
http://dirtystreets.bandcamp.com/

The Dirty Streets, White Horse (2015)

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The Atomic Bitchwax, Lo-Pan & The Dirty Streets Announce Coast-to-Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

A couple months ago, while out on a run with The Obsessed and Karma to BurnTone Deaf is killing it with the package tours this year — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax sustained an injury to his arm that forced the band to cancel about half the dates. Sierra filled in, but still kind of a bummer for the stalwart NJ trio, whose 2015 Tee Pee Records album, Gravitron (review here), was among the year’s finest.

No doubt they’d get back out, and this time they’ll be headlining a coast-to-coast stint with Ohio’s Lo-Pan and Memphis blues rockers The Dirty Streets. For Lo-Pan, it will mark the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson, who was just announced as having joined the band earlier this week. They’re on the tour from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27 only, it looks like, so presumably the next night will serve as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas. The Dirty Streets, on the other hand, have an off-night as the Bitchwax and Lo-Pan roll into Tucson on Aug. 27, so I guess that’s when they’ll be playing the Vegas megafestival.

In any case, glad to see The Atomic Bitchwax heading off again and continuing to keep excellent company. Dates were posted by the band:

the atomic bitchwax lo pan dirty streets tour-700

USA!!
Arm is healed up so let’s try this again!!

THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (ALL DATES)
W/ LO PAN (8/19-9/27) and THE DIRTY STREETS (8/19-9/10 excluding 8/27)
08/19/2016 Charlotte NC The Milestone w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/20/2016 Hattiesburg MS The Tavern w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/21/2016 New Orleans LA Siberia w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/22/2016 San Antonio TX Limelight w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/23/2016 Houston TX White Oak Music Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/24/2016 Austin TX Grizzly Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/25/2016 Ft Worth TX Rail Club w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/26/2016 Albuquerque NM Ned’s Bar w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/27/2016 Tucson AZ Flycatcher w/ Lo-Pan
08/28/2016 San Diego CA Soda Bar w/ The Dirty Streets
08/29/2016 Los Angeles CA Viper Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/30/2016 San Francisco CA Elbo Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/31/2016 Portland OR Dante’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/01/2016 Vancouver BC Biltmore w/ The Dirty Streets
09/02/2016 Seattle WA El Corazon w/ The Dirty Streets
09/03/2016 Bellingham WA Shakedown w/ The Dirty Streets
09/06/2016 Minneapolis MN Grumpy’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/07/2016 Chicago IL Double Door w/ The Dirty Streets
09/08/2016 Cleveland OH Grog Shop w/ The Dirty Streets
09/09/2016 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Dirty Streets
09/10/2016 Brooklyn NY Black Bear w/ The Dirty Streets

https://www.facebook.com/The-Atomic-Bitchwax-86002001659/
https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic/
https://www.facebook.com/thedirtystreets
http://tonedeaftouring.com/

The Atomic Bitchwax, Live in Toulouse, France

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The Heavy Eyes Announce West Coast Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the heavy eyes-700

Memphis three-piece The Heavy Eyes have announced a week-long run of shows on the West Coast for next month. The band released their third LP, He Dreams of Lions (review here), last fall via Kozmik Artifactz, and all I have to do is read the name of the album to have the titular hook stuck in my head. In addition to this current round of shows, the band threatens further incursions outside their Southeastern home base, including a potential stint in Europe, perhaps to materialize later this year. One to keep an eye out for, but in the meantime, they cover a considerable amount of ground in just these five shows — one imagines a drive up the coast in July is lovely as well — and you’ll find the dates and poster below.

Also included is the full stream of He Dreams of Lions, in case you’d also like it stuck in your head for the rest of the day:

the heavy eyes tour

Fuzz and groove based Heavy Eyes announce tour dates for the western half of the US. Heavy Eyes, who released their third album, He Dreams of Lions, in November, will be hitting the road from 7/10 starting in Tempe, AZ and ending in Missoula, MT on 7/16. While the tour is quick, Heavy Eyes have promised to add more dates in future months and hopefully to include Europe in the near future. See July dates below.

7/10 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
7/11 Los Angeles, CA @ Viper Room
7/13 Portland, OR @ Ash Street Saloon
7/14 Seattle, OR @ High Dive
7/16 Missoula, MT @ Stage 112

Following on from their 2011 self-titled debut, and 2012’s successful Maera album, Memphis trio The Heavy Eyes return to the fold November 2015 with their most accomplished record to date. Over eleven tracks, amidst the unbridled rawness of ‘Saint’, the sheer weight of ‘Z-Bo’ and R’n’B shake appeal of ‘Smoke Signal, hypnotic hard rock riffs are delivered thick and fast through distorted fuzz boxes, gnarled bass lines and levee breaking drum beats. This is an album that draws heavily from the heaviest (Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, Mountain) and in doing so turns out new ideas with a punishing authenticity and honesty in line with their Memphis blues heritage.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHeavyEyes/
http://theheavyeyesmemphis.bandcamp.com/
https://instagram.com/theheavyeyes/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/

The Heavy Eyes, He Dreams of Lions (2015)

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Dirty Streets on Tour Till June; Euro Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

dirty streets

Next weekend, Memphis heavy blues rockers Dirty Streets head to SXSW, where they’ll hop on the Bongzilla tour for the night and join the formidable ranks of Bongzilla, Black Cobra, Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan and Author and Punisher. In August, they’ll be playing Psycho Las Vegas (details here). Most of the time in between, they’ll spend on the road supporting their late-2015 album, White Horse (review here), which was released by Alive Records and reaffirmed the trio’s commitment to quality songwriting and classic-style craftsmanship. They already toured the US alongside Spirit Caravan, so this time around they’re headed to Europe for a slew of shows in Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

That’ll take Dirty Streets from April 7 through to May 7, but they’ve got shows booked for June in the States as well. Nothing like keeping busy. Dates (and there are many of them) follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

dirty streets euro tour poster

Dirty Streets USA/Europe tour dates

We’re heading to Europe this April!

DIRTY STREETS on tour
March 18 @ Arrow Bar — Texarkana, TX
March 19 @ Swan Dive Patio (SXSW) — Austin, TX
April 2 @ Young Avenue Deli — Memphis, TN
April 7 @ Rössli @ Reitschule — Bern, CH
April 8 @ Kofmehl — Solothurn, CH
April 9 @ Bruch Brothers — Luzern, CH
April 10 @ Le Bouffon de la Taverne — Geneva, CH
April 14 @ La Triangu — Sopelana, ES
April 15 @ The Green Irish Pub — Alcala de Henares, ES
April 16 @ Salason — Cangas de Morrazo
April 17 @ Café Cultural Auriense — Ourense, ES
April 18 @ Gran Café — Leon, ES
April 19 @ La Gramola — Orihuela, ES
April 20 @ Sala Pabersamateo — Valencia, ES
April 21 @ La Boite — Madrid, ES
April 22 @ Veneno Stereo — Castellon, ES
April 23 @ Rocksound — Barcelona, ES
April 24 @ Rock & Apples — Calella, ES
April 26 @ Scène Michelet — Nantes, FR
April 27 @ Sonic Ballroom — Köln, DE
April 28 @ Waschbar — Rüsselsheim, DE
April 29 @ Bluesgarage — Isernhagen, DE
April 30 @ Rare Guitar — Münster, DE
May 1 @ Pogo — Gorinchem, NL
May 4 @ Musicstar — Norderstedt, DE
May 5 @ Happy Billard — Hamburg, DE
May 6 @ Road Runners — Berlin, DE
May 7 @ Kesselhaus — Singwitz, DE
June 10 @ Hi Tone — Memphis TN
June 11 @ TBA — Hattiesburg, MS
June 13 @ Bears Fairfield — Shreveport, LA
June 14 @ Arrow Bar — Texarkana, TX
June 15 @ White Water Tavern — Little Rock, AR
June 16 @ Blue Note — Oklahoma City, OK
June 17 @ Maxines — Hot Springs, AR

https://www.facebook.com/thedirtystreets
http://www.alive-records.com/artist/the-dirty-streets/

Dirty Streets, “White Horse”

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Quarterly Review: Corrections House, Antimatter, Colossus, Bastard Lord, Monocluster, Valley, Shatner, Australasia, The Moth Gatherer, Super Witch

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Well, this is where we hit and pass the halfway point. It’s been a good week so far. Busy, but good. I hope you’ve found something that you dig or agree with or whatnot. I know it’s kind of hard to dig through 10 releases at once, but even if you see cover art that strikes a nerve, going with that impulse is rarely a bad idea, particularly when the level of commitment involved is clicking play on a Bandcamp player to get a taste. Pretty wide range today, so let’s dig in.

Quarterly review #21-30:

Corrections House, Know How to Carry a Whip

corrections house know how to carry a whip

Since they made their debut as a unit in 2013 with Last City Zero (also on Neurot), the don’t-call-it-a-supergroup Corrections House – vocalist Mike Williams (Eyehategod), guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly (Neurosis), saxophonist/vocalist Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest) and programmer Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea) – have spread their bleak gospel of totalitarian industrial vehemence to audiences in the US and Europe. Their second offering, Know How to Carry a Whip, is bolder sound-wise and retains a very human, punk rock core with Williams’ sneer playing off Kelly’s gutturalism on “White Man’s Gonna Lose” and nearly goes goth in doing the same with Lamont in the later “When Push Comes to Shank,” but across the 45-minute span, the songs remain in the key of abrasion, and ultimately that’s what most unites them. As noisy as closer “Burn the Witness” gets, I can’t help but think of the acoustic, Lamont-led centerpiece “Visions Divide” as the bleakest moment of the record, twisting folkish conventions into a dystopian soundscape, but Williams’ spoken drug-poetry on “I was Never Good at Meth” provides stiff competition.

Corrections House on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings

Antimatter, The Judas Table

The Judas Table

Lush in its arrangements and doling out extreme measures of melancholy across its 56 minutes, Antimatter’s sixth album, The Judas Table (on Prophecy Productions), brings sonic depth to bear in rich textures of electric and acoustic guitars, keys, and the strength-through-fragility vocals of remaining founder and songwriter Mick Moss. The group’s last offering, 2012’s Fear of a Unique Identity (review here), pushed them into fuller tones, and an early cut like “Killer” builds on that, but the crux of The Judas Table is in subdued and brooding pieces like “Little Piggy,” remorseful and seething in kind as it moves through an acoustic-led arrangement marked out by strings and a sense of grace. “Integrity” asks the question, “What’s the point if no one else has any?” and sets a depressive run through one of the record’s grader builds, but Antimatter are hardly contained to one style here, as the New Wave inflection on “Can of Worms” or the rumbling apex of highlight “Stillborn Empires” demonstrate.

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Prophecy Productions

Colossus, The Breathing World

colossus the breathing world

Not to be confused with their Swedish countrymen who operated under the same moniker and whose lineup included a post-and-pre-Candlemass Messiah Marcolin, Stockholm’s Colossus play a decidedly progressive blend of Peaceville-style doom and metal, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Niklas Eriksson, bassist Peter Berg and drummer Thomas Norstedt adding a near-immediate inflection toward the epic via Primordial-style vocal patterning on opener “Yehi Aour/Wanderers” that holds for much of their 48-minute sophomore outing, The Breathing World (on Perennity Records). “Darkling Root” and more so the chugging “Fuga Mundi” delve into blackened fare in the guitar, but it’s just one of an array of genres in Colossus’ arsenal and in the case of the latter, soon enough complemented by Opethian prog noodling and soulful vocalizing. These turns, which more often than not happen in an instant, are a great strength of The Breathing World, but would fall flat without the crisp, confident delivery the band provides leading to the grand sprawl and long fade of 10-minute closer, “The Silent City.”

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Bastard Lord, Bastard Lord

bastard lord bastard lord

One thing we’ve learned about Twin Earth Records thus far into the long-established label’s recent surge of activity is that it knows tone when it hears it. Thus comes treading Bastard Lord out of Buffalo, New York, whose four-song self-titled debut was initially self-released and remastered for a CD issue, rumble-fuzzing a murky Sabbath worship that oozes from the amps of bassist/vocalist David Braymiller and guitarist Mike Hermann – hard to tell at times in 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cimmerian” where the one instrument ends and the other begins – and set to a suitable plod by Jeremy Coupe’s drumming. It’s little surprise when they pay homage to “Snowblind” in “Wormwood,” but the psychedelic edge in Braymiller’s vocals – drowned in effects, buried in the mix; both appropriately so – gives Bastard Lord a personality of its own the holds even into the faster closer “Into the Sea,” a Toner Low-style lysergic depth unflinching through that song and “Summoner” before it as Bastard Lord emerge from the mire with their intentions clear.

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Twin Earth Records

Monocluster, Monocluster

monocluster monocluster

One might be forgiven for entering into Monocluster’s self-titled, self-released debut album with an expectation for traditional stoner rock, between the band’s moniker and album cover – and if that’s what came through in playing the 35-minute, five-track outing, I very likely wouldn’t complain – but the German-language four-piece subtly veer into and out of spacier interludes in cuts like “Dantes Inferno” and “8 Stunden” and the later “Ich Atme” pushes even further along those lines, jamming out vast and echoing over a foundational bassline that holds the track together before it stops outright and resurfaces with Monocluster’s most righteous single nod. Centerpiece “Straße” demonstrates a touch of Colour Haze influence as well, but on the whole the Cologne four-piece seem headed in a different direction, and as the 10-minute closer “12 Minuten” ranges farther and heavier than everything before it, I’m only more intrigued to find out where they might end up. Heavy psych that’s not afraid to tighten up and make a more pointed impact when it feels one is needed.

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Valley, Sunburst

valley sunburst

I have two reasons for writing a review of Valley’s Sunburst EP, and they are both ridiculously simple. Yes, the Swedish five-piece were featured in two podcasts (one here, one here) and mentioned in the roundup of 2015’s best short releases – however, reviewing Sunburst now gives me another excuse to put it back on and it gives me something to fall back to later when I’m praising the crap out of whatever they do next and want to link a past review. Simple reasons. If you haven’t yet heard the 2015 debut outing from the Stockholm post-heavy rock instrumentalists, basked in the warm, organic psychedelia of “Tunguska” and “Kiro” or the peaceful folk-jam of “Dream Shooter, Golden!” and the tense-and-release percussion and sample-topped progressive course of “Picture Puzzle Pattern Door,” then you have quite simply missed out. I’m sure plenty have and plenty more will liken it to a desert sound – in no small part because of the cover art – but the smooth melodicism goes beyond landscape here and is made to be appreciated regardless of climate or locale.

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Version Studio Records

Shatner, EP

shatner ep

An edge of Northeastern aggression is unmistakable at the core of Shatner’s 20-minute self-released six-track EP. Based in Boston, the tree-piece boasts guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey (Black Thai, We’re all Gonna Die), bassist/backing vocalist Jesse Sherman (We’re all Gonna Die) and drummer Rob Davol (Cocked ‘n’ Loaded), and so a touch of anger isn’t unexpected given the personnel – even Healey’s acoustic work has brooding tension underlying – but if “Special” and “Black Market Liver” are variations on an ongoing theme, they’re of consistent quality in terms of songwriting, and the Thin Lizzy cover “Bad Reputation” is positioned well just past the halfway point to add variety amid a slew of potent hooks. Not their first time working together, but Healey and Sherman’s voices complement each other well on “Dead in Your Eyes” and “Death Reheated,” and with the solid foundation that Davol provides throughout, Shatner’s EP is an encouraging start to what’s hopefully an ongoing development.

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Shatner on Bandcamp

Australasia, Notturno

australasia-notturno

Harvested, sometimes manipulated samples and synthesized textures permeate Notturno, the mostly-instrumental second album from Italian atmospheric project Australasia. Comprised solely of Gian Spalluto, it’s somewhat more surprising that songs like the cascading “Lumen” and “Kern” are able to conjure such full-band progressions, but layering was bound to be a factor one way or another in Australasia’s approach, so if it’s Spalluto’s vision at play, so be it. Sonically, the impression of much of the material – including the guest-vocalized centerpiece “Invisibile” – winds up somewhere between the dystopian ambience of Red Sparowes and the brighter aspirations of post-black metallers Alcest, but songs like “Haxo” and the closing title-track, a (mostly) solo piano piece, have a cinematic edge as well. Rather than play one side against the other, Spalluto brings them together in one overarching flow that engages conceptually and sonically throughout a nine-track/39-minute course that willfully refuses to acknowledge a line between post-rock and post-metal.

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Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings

The Moth Gatherer, The Earth is the Sky

the moth gatherer the earth is the sky

Synth ambience and distorted severity meet head-on with the second full-length from Swedish post-metallers The Moth Gatherer, The Earth is the Sky (on Agonia Records). Produced over a two-year span with Karl Daniel Lidén (Greenleaf, VAKA, etc.), it punishes intensely on “The Black Antlers” with no less underlying fluidity than it had on the quietly atmospheric “Dyatlov Pass” preceding, the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Alex Stjernfeldt, guitarist/vocalist/programmer Victor Wegeborn, guitarist Ronny Westphal and drummer Svante Karlsson finding a place sound-wise that swaps between peaceful and threatening, delving into extreme progressive metal and electronica in kind on “Attacus Atlas” while setting up the consuming, gradual push of 11-minute closer “In Awe Before the Rapture,” which seems in conversation with the synth of the earlier “Probing the Descent of Man” in creating a layered structure of sound, while also attempting to marry the various impulses displayed throughout. Familiar to a degree, but immersive in its bringing earth and sky together.

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Agonia Records

Super Witch, Super Witch has Risen

super witch super witch has risen

You might wonder just what kind of neighborhood it is that would pair “The House that Dripped Blood” next door to “House of Warlocks” – perhaps that street is on the “Island of Lost Souls” – but then you probably wouldn’t get the crux of Memphis heavy punk foursome Super Witch’s debut full-length, Super Witch Has Risen, which has tales of horror front to back, “Spaceship Cadillac” notwithstanding. The Tennessean outfit dip into garage grunge on “Night of the Hunter” and stomp out call and response and Melvins chug on on “The Need,” show some more patient swing on “Smash Your Own Face,” but it’s “Army of Werewolves” and the opening “Super Witch Has Risen” that tell the story of the band’s intent more than the semi-swirl of “Smash Your Own Face” or the all-the-way swirl of closer “With the Lights Out,” as satisfying as the closer is in pulling off a rare feat – psychedelic punk. Split between two recording sessions, there are some changes in sound throughout, but it would take a supernatural force to derail Super Witch from their underlying purpose.

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Dirty Streets, White Horse: Gotta be Plain

Posted in Reviews on December 31st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

dirty-streets-white-horse

Memphis trio Dirty Streets, who dropped a “The” from their moniker with their 2013 third album, Blades of Grass (review here), set their foundation early in a blend of classic heavy rock and blues. Since coming together with the consistent lineup of Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion) and issuing their 2009 debut, Portrait of a Man, and its 2011 follow-up, Movements (review here), before signing to Alive Naturalsound, the three-piece have pushed toward a style built on organic instrumental chemistry and soulful delivery of their material, put together in a songwriting process traditional in its structure but given a vibrant energy by the three-piece’s performance, rhythms and melodies.

Their latest outing, the easy-boogieing White Horse, runs a bit deeper lyrically than did Blades of Grass, dealing with issues of drugs on “Good Pills” and “White Horse,” loneliness on “Good Kind of Woman” and “Dust” and a general longing for things to be better across opening duo “Save Me” and “Looking for My Peace” and the later “When I See My Light.” None of this is new territory for blues, but it’s darker than Dirty Streets have gone before, though set up in a contrast to the band’s generally upbeat instrumental modus. Even the acoustic-led “The Voices” and “Dust” seem to find some resolve or at least catharsis in their own efficient runs, and in any case, at 11 tracks/36 minutes, White Horse hardly sticks around long enough — either in its individual songs or front-to-back course — to wallow. There’s dancing to do.

That brevity and a general forwardness of purpose — Dirty Streets have always eschewed pretense and their fourth LP is no exception — work greatly to White Horse‘s favor. Denham‘s kick sets the pace immediately on “Save Me” and Toland‘s vocals start the first of several sing-along-ready parts the record has on offer, and before the listener really knows it, the track is underway. Something the band has long excelled at is gracefully walking a fine line between heavy, motor-ready riffing and a generally laid back, good-times atmosphere, and while the Matt Qualls-produced outing pans lead guitar from left to right channels on “Looking for My Peace” and peppers arrangements there with piano and on “Dust” with harmonies and wah-soaked notes from Toland to go with Storz‘s “Freebird” bassline, the songwriting ultimately gains as much from what it holds onto from prior outings as from what it presents as growth from the last couple years and/or elements that otherwise flesh out the material and add variety to the album as a whole.

dirty streets

So, a track like “Accents” (the longest inclusion at 4:09) takes cues from psych rock circa ’68 and through a melding of acoustic, guitar, piano and gang-contributed room-vocals charts a diverse trajectory and accomplishes what it sets out to do without a wasted moment. The same could easily be said for White Horse as a whole, an 8-track-ready groove like “Think Twice” meeting head-on with a percussion jam in its second half before Toland begins “When I See My Light” on solo vocals, a gospel nod maybe, before Storz holds together a relative guitar and drum freakout en route to one of the record’s most resonant hooks.

Denham delivers a highlight performance there and it once again holds true for all of White Horse that while Dirty Streets have more to offer melodically than they ever have before, it’s the rhythm, the groove, that carries the listener across the fervent flow between tracks. To wit, the roll of “Good Kind of Woman” into the relatively minimal “The Voices” — even that has a shaker in behind the acoustic guitar — and the raucuousness following with “Good Pills.” The band covers a lot of ground in under eight minutes, tossing out catchy choruses one after another and winding up even showing a bit of cynical edge as the two-minute “Good Pills” rounds out with the lines, “Don’t forget now to take your pills/I know you won’t because you can’t stop.”

In combination with the closing title-track, a masterful groove in the band’s post-Blue Cheer tradition, the theme of drug abuse is clear — not that they were masking it, given the album’s title — but the raw-rocking “Plain” and Hendrixian-psych-meets-’70s-prog of “Dust” provide a buffer while keeping the flow steady between them. Toland‘s vocal performance on “Dust” highlights the singer he’s become, but really, there isn’t one single member of Dirty Streets you might listen to who doesn’t show progression from where they were even two years ago, and much as White Horse as an entire work benefits from the strengths of its individual tracks, so too does the band become stronger for what TolandStorz and Denham bring to the material. “Plain” tries to make it sound like this is all very easy and simple in its chorus, “Plain/Gotta be plain/I can’t hide it,” but the truth is that chemistry like Dirty Streets‘ doesn’t just happen, and they do right by making the most of it throughout.

Dirty Streets, “Good Pills”

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Dirty Streets at Alive Naturalsound

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